It came as a sudden shock late Friday evening. Sharon Jones had passed away after a long, public battle with pancreatic cancer. If you’re anything like me, all of a sudden you’re winded, wordless–feeling like you just got punched in the gut. Another amazing artist has left us in 2016. And how amazing she was.
I remember the first time I went to a Sharon Jones show. It was six years ago, and a friend of mine had asked if I was interested in going to see her at the Warfield in San Francisco. I knew of Sharon and liked her latest album, “I Learned the Hard Way.” The Dap Kings were a well known backing band thanks to their work on the Amy Winehouse “Back to Black” album. I was more than interested, and mentioned it to my other friend who immediately wanted to join us. Cut to the concert, and all three of us are sitting on the upper level. Our asses never ended up on our chairs. It was one GIANT soul party that only seemed to get better as the night went on. I still remember Sharon pulling this guy up on stage and dancing with him. It was magical.
The thing about Sharon is you never realized how amazing a performer she was until you went to a show. After that, anytime I had the opportunity to see her in concert I would do my best to get there, and drag whomever I could convince to be a fan with me. It wasn’t hard. She was the female embodiment of James Brown–or maybe, James Brown was the male embodiment of her.
So now we are left with this big hole in our hearts for someone who was humble, funny and immensely talented. Her imprint on the music industry was limited, as she only broke through in her 40s, and saw her popularity gain in her 50s. But the impact was fast and furious. Her voice alone brought so much energy. She moved in ways that were inexplicable, but once you saw it, you understood. I feel lucky to have seen her as many times as I did, and fortunate that her music walked into my life at the time it did.
I wonder who could fill her shoes. Part of me knows no one can and ever will.
Although, those chills I get everytime I hear “100 Days, 100 Nights” return when I listen to Kim Logan’s cover. You can tell Logan wants to do the song–and Sharon–justice, but makes it her own by letting her tone of voice own it. You can hear her southern roots when she sings, which comes out even more as you listen to her self titled debut album.
So here’s to the queen who wouldn’t stop singing. And the many more who will follow her lead down that soul train. I hope she having one hell of a party singing and dancing . . . upstairs.